By Jeb Wright
American Dog are the best bar band in the USA---hell, make that the world. They bash out in-yer-face, greasy, stained, nasty, and brash hard rock songs with brutal raw energy all night long.
They are like Motorhead with stage presence and better breath. These guys rock their asses off and make no apologies for being true to themselves and the music they love.
The band is promoting their latest CD Poison Smile with a new video for the tune “Devil Dog.” These puppies don’t sit up and beg, however, these dogs are more the loud barking, snarling and humping your leg sort of canine.
Classic Rock Revisited caught up with vocalist/bassist and all Alpha Dog, Michael Hannon to discuss all things American Dog. We also talk about Hannon’s former Sunset Strip band Salty Dog and how their record company told MTV not to play there video, as well as Charlie Sheen and why the French rock.
Read the words, check out the videos and at the end of the interview click over to http://www.americandog.us and buy some music. It’s guaranteed to be loud, raucous and remind you that rock and roll was meant to be fun.
Jeb: You have released a new video for the Poison Smile album. Where was it shot?
Michael: We shot two new videos, one for “Devil Dog” and one for “The Real Nitty Gritty.” We have only released “Devil Dog” so far. Both videos were filmed at the Al Rosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio which is a great venue that has a bad name because of the Dimebag incident. I’ve been playing the Al Rosa since 1981 and love it.
The Poison Smile CD just keeps selling, so we decided to keep pushing it with promotional videos while we keep writing material for the next disc.
Jeb: The new album is yet more classic cock rock man. Now, I know you’re getting old. How the fuck do you find the energy to keep coming up with this music?
Michael: The energy is there because we give a damn! I love rock and roll, hell I’m listening to Budgie’s “Bandolier” right now. And besides, what else am I going to do? A man has to have a reason to wake up in the morning and mine is American Dog. We’ve been doing this for 12 years now and we are finally getting our name into the bigger camps, that is with the booking agents and label types.
Jeb: Let’s talk a few songs on Poison Smile. First, “Charlie Sheen,” to your knowledge has he seen the video, or heard the song?
Michael: I don’t know. I did talk to Kevin Cronin from REO, who’s a neighbor of Charlie’s about the video and he said he’d tell him about it. It’s odd, his first response was, “What do you have against Charlie?” and I said nothing and explained that I think he’s cool as hell, he’s the hero in this song. So, back to the question, I don’t know if he’s seen it or not, but we haven’t heard anything from his camp.
Jeb: “2012 AD” is a different vibe than some of the usual Dog stuff.
Michael: We are always expanding our sound, slowly but surely. That’s a Steve [Theado] thing. He is an incredible talent and plays all kinds of weird stuff. We’re going to keep on pushing him into doing more of this kind of stuff, too.
Jeb: Tell me who inspired the song “Can Your Pussy Do the Dog”?
Michael: “Can Your Pussy Do the Dog?” is a cover song by a band called the Cramps, who I absolutely love. I’ve wanted to record this song for a long time. We did it on a European tour before we recorded it for the album and it always got a great response. If you want to check out the original version, it’s on their Date with Elvis CD.
Jeb: “Bathroom Romance” sounds like true story.
Michael: Hell, I’ve been playing in rock and roll bands since 1981 and encounters with the fairer sex happen all the time, and often a bathroom is the only place you get any privacy, so this has happened many times in many places.
Jeb: On your website you have deluxe packages. What does one get for an Andrew Jackson for a deluxe package of Poison Smile?
Michael: Ah yes, the Deluxe Package! We’ve been doing this with releases for quite sometime. It’s like the good ol’ days when you’d buy an Alice Cooper album and you’d get a Billion Dollar Bill or some underwear in it. Only we’re doing CD, so the “toys” are smaller.
Our deluxe version of Poison Smile comes with an autographed poster, a sticker, an embroidered patch and three buttons. That’s a lot of extras for only $10.00 more.
Jeb: Let’s talk some influences…Who were your top five inspirations to get into hard rock?
Michael: Kiss, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith and AC/DC we’re my favorites, this is in the mid-70’s, and I still love this kind of music.
Jeb: Name five albums you owned that changed your life and why.
Michael: Kiss – Alive! Sealed the deal for me, I still think it’s their best release.
Starz’ – Violation, and the self-titled debut, was listened to non-stop.
Van Halen’s debut, jeez what can be said about this?
AC/DC’s Let There be Rock and Powerage are both superior to everything!
Jeb: I purchased the Salty Dog CD Every Dog has Its Day when it was released. You guys should have hit it big. Looking back, why didn’t Salty Dog get its day?
Michael: Salty Dog didn’t get its day because of heroin, it’s not a good career move and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
Jeb: I love the version of “Spoonful” on that album.
Michael: That’s my least favorite track on the disc, but a lot of people really like it.
Jeb: Then there was the song about the Beverly Hillbilly’s. How did that come up?
Michael: What you’re referencing is the outro to the song “Lonesome Fool.” Jimmi [Bleacher] came up with that bit while we were recording it. He sat down on stage, whipped out a knife and started carving an apple while he said that stuff, it was very cool.
Jeb: Were you gigging out on the Strip a lot? You must have run into some famous bands on the way.
Michael: Yeah, all the bands were getting signed, L.A. was hopping. One of the first bands I was in was called Doll and my first show with them was with Guns N’ Roses in Anaheim. Janie Lane was in a band called Plain Jane before Warrant and he used to hang out quite a bit. I always seemed to run into the Rhino Bucket guys too, and I still do.
Jeb: Is there any truth that your record company pulled your video off MTV?
Michael: It wasn't the company it was an individual. We had filmed a video for the song "Come Along", which cost us $25,000. The song was getting a lot of radio play at the time, so we figured this would put the record over the top.
It was filmed in a ship graveyard in Long Beach, California and the director of the video took one of the color spectrums out of it to give it a very unique look.
Everybody was very happy with it except for the one jack wagon at Geffen, who said we should go out on the road and support Robin Trower for a few more weeks and then consider re-shooting!
Everyone else at the label loved it, as did our management company, so we decided to go ahead and mail it to MTV, in those days MTV played music videos! Anyway, MTV got the video, liked it and decided to put it into medium rotation to start, which would have probably pushed the record to gold.
Once the A&R scumbag from Geffen found out we "went behind his back" he called MTV and told them not to show it, this way we knew who the boss was! So there ya have it, it's not a story of a label not getting behind a band, it’s the story of a label head stopping a band from getting sales, all because of his ego.
Jeb: Now I want a good Rainbow Bar and Grill Story. Did you ever make it to that little room way up top?
Michael: The bathrooms are upstairs, so I would walk in on occasion, but I would mostly just stay downstairs for the pizza and beer.
Jeb: Back to American Dog. I hear there is another album in the works. How many songs? Anything you can tell me?
Michael: We are writing now. We have one that’s ready to play out live and three or four that we’re still putting together. We’ll let our fate decide the future. If we get on a tour, we’ll stay out as long as possible. If it’s just local gigs, we will keep writing and get to work on the next disc. Myself, I would rather keep touring. I think Poison Smile is great and not enough people in the States know about it.
There is a disc coming out in April by American Dog and Fin Muir, which we recorded four or five years ago; its five originals and five cover songs. It started out as a Pete Way solo album, but he couldn’t get back into the States, so Fin, who was Pete’s partner in Waysted, finished it.
Jeb: You have a huge appeal with bikers and also with people in France. That on the surface does not make much sense. Bikers and French people? Explain how this can even be possible?
Michael: First of all, France is a great rock and roll country, and there are a lot of French bikers, so don’t let some jokes a comedian says influence your opinion.
We’ve been signed to French labels the entire life of the band, which would explain our popularity there. A French label would of course do there best work in France. When it comes to bikers, they’re mostly blue-collar guys like us, so they can appreciate our words of wisdom!
Jeb: What will it say on your tombstone?
Michael: I told you I didn’t feel good.
Jeb: I will do a Chris Farley interview—remember when he interviewed McCartney on Saturday Night Live? Well, here is my take on that style of interviewing…Remember that time when you had that naked chick on your album and she was eating out of a dog bowl? You could see her tits. THAT WAS AWESOME!
Michael: That was our take on Spinal Tap’s Smell the Glove. Yes, tits are cool!
Jeb: What is next for American Dog? Touring? Anymore appearances of Sir Loin O’Beef on a new DVD?
Michael: We have three DVD’s out now, All Over the Road Volume 1 and 2, plus the Hard on the Road disc, so I can’t see us doing a DVD for a couple more years. We will ask Mr. O’Beef if he’ll make an appearance, but he’s a crotchety old bastard, so ya never know.
Jeb: Here is what I want you guys to do… I want American Dog to remake, as a tribute, but not in a corny way…in a killer cool way…the entire Highway to Hell album and then open your set with the entire album for a DVD.
Michael: Don’t hold yer breath! That would be fun though.
Jeb: If you had not been a rocker, what would you have done?
Michael: Probably what I’m doing for my day job now, working with dogs. It’s a side of me very few people have seen, I’m a bit of a Dog Whisperer. I talk dogs off of cliffs.
Jeb: Last one: You have played with a lot of bands…who was the best band to hang out with?
Michael: We’ve played with a ton of bands. I really enjoy hanging out with the Rhino Bucket guys, and Nazareth is a blast too!
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